Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Changing Climate

Stephen McIntyre
People that matter is a list of the top 50 people who matter in 2010 according to the New Statesman.  Reaching the list for the first time is Stephen McIntyre who, with his blog Climate Audit, has probably done more than anyone else to challenge shoddy science in the IPCC.  Not unexpectedly, the New Statesman suggests his influence might not be positive, but I suspect the time is not far off when Universities will be offering him honorary degrees.  

(Whilst on the subject of of honorary degrees, I understand McIntyre's co-author Ross McKitrick was proposed for just such an honorary degree at one of the Edinburgh Universities. Perhaps the climate has not changed quite that much yet.)

The Financial Times carried an opinion piece last week-end by Andrew Turnbull, UK Cabinet Secretary from 2002-2005.   I doubt if they would have carried such an article a year ago.   Here is an extract - the whole article is well worth reading.

To restore trust, it was essential that the government, parliament, the University of East Anglia and the Royal Society should respond quickly to get to the truth. They set up three inquiries but did those inquiries resolve the issues? A report by Andrew Montford for the Global Warming Policy Foundation shows serious flaws in the inquiries, which it says were marred by the failure to ensure independence in the panel members; by the refusal to take account of critical views; and by the failure to probe some serious allegations.
Stephan Budiansky is a science commentator.  He suggests the current climate change catastrophists come

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

". . . The rigour and honesty of the scientists are not in doubt. . ."

The title of this post is the view of the Department of Energy and Climate Change - and therefore the Government - in considering the three reviews into the events and fallout after the release of emails from the University of East Anglia in November last year.   It is expressed in a letter from Chris Huhne of that Department, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne on 31st July after the following three enquiries had reported:

  • The Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons - report here
  • The Independent Scientific Appraisal Panel - known as the Oxburgh Report
  • The Independent Climate Change Email Review chaired by Sir Muir Russell - report here
Last Tuesday I reported the publication of a non independent review of the three enquiries by Andrew Montford.  The author had previously been critical of the climate scientists under investigation.

There is another non-independent review of the reports.   It is by Ross McKitrick, a Canadian economist who has published papers challenging the quality of key climate science papers from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.  You can read his analysis of the three reports here.

There is a divergence between the Government conclusions and those of  McKitrick and Montford.  In fact the conclusions are mutually exclusive in key respects.  

I have read the reports and the reviews of the reports virtually in their entirety.  McKitrick and Montford come from a partisan position and rely on evidence and argument to make their case challenging many of the conclusions of the reports.  In contrast, the Oxburgh and Russell reports, (the Parliamentary Committee was curtailed owing to the election), make spurious claims to independence.

Chris Huhne and George Osbourne need sound evidence to undergird public policy.  

Later today the Transport Committee of Edinburgh Council will decide whether to proceed with a proposal to link parking permit costs to CO2 emissions. 

It is important to understand that this, and a wide range of other far reaching  public policy decisions, are now being made as a consequence of the issues over which the Department of the Energy and Climate Change disagrees with McKitrick and Montford.  The rigour and honesty of the scientists is critical to the formation and prosecution of public policy.

Having read the three reports, it is difficult not to have doubts about that rigour and honesty. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Climategate Inquiries

Published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, The Climategate Enquiries is a 54 page survey by Andrew Montford, author if the Bishop Hill blog.  Montford is the author of The Hockey Stick Illusion and came to prominence with an earlier survey of evidence Caspar and the Jesus Paper, a remarkable account in layman's language of a key skirmish in the climate wars.

Another week: selection from the blogs

Here is a selection of links to climate blogs in the past week.  Later I will link to the report on the various reports which have been carried out this year following the release of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia.
  1. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) 2007:  Richard Tol, Professor of the Economics of climate Change in Amsterdam, pointed out yet more flaws in the 'climate bible' - this time in Chapter 11 dealing models to show the costs of reducing emissions using technology.  His post at Die Klimazwiebel is well worth reading.  Tol concludes his article: "Review comments on both drafts pointed out that Chapter 11 misrepresents the literature."  
  2. The University of East Anglia's claim in a press release, repeating an egregious error in the Muir Russell report, is shown to be false in another forensic analysis of the evidence by Steve McIntyre at ClimateAudit.  His post relates to the email from Professor Jones in which he wrote on 29th May 2008 "Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4."     The Muir Russell report glossed this with ". . . we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made."  It turns out the Jones email was written after Freedom of Information requests and the Russell report was mistaken.    Here is the fascinating and sorry tale with the key background post here.  This really is an extraordinary account.
  3. Lord Oxburgh appeared before the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons last week.  McIntyre begins a post with this assertion: "Almost none of Oxburgh's testimony . . . can be taken at face value" and then proceeds to evidence his opening statement.  Lord Oxburgh is the man who was called in by the University of East Anglia to lead a Science Appraisal Panel after the emails were released to 'appraise the science of the CRU'.  He later said "the science was not the subject of the study".   And Lord Oxburgh was  not independent.  He is president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Chairman of the wind energy firm Falck Renewables and a member of the Green Fiscal Commission.  Another independent 'official' report which is not all it is supposed to be.  Until the enquiries have credibility there will always be good reason for doubt about the conduct of climate science.
  4. For a number of years polar bears have been a poster child for the alleged catastrophic nature of global warming.  The evidence for the demise of polar bears, however, is not as the posters would have you believe.  See here for more.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Climate: Making sense of the debate

To date there has been at least six enquiries spawned by the release of emails from the CRU at east Anglia. The result of a police enquiry into the release of the emails from CRU is still awaited.

Later this month an enquiry into the enquiries will be released.  Andrew Montford, author of the Hockey Stick Illusion and the Bishop Hill blog, has been commissioned by the Global Warming Policy Foundation to review the enquiries.  His report is due to be published on 15th September.

The reports themselves are part of the problem and illustrate the words of Matt Ridley which I quoted last week:
 "One of the most shocking things for those who champion science, as I do, has been the sight of the science Establishment reacting to each scandal in climate science with indifference or contempt."